Straight TalkA weekly update from management on the issues that matter most. Aug 18, 2016 What exactly do we mean when we talk about NCH being on a constant “journey” to improve? One answer can be found in our Primary Stroke Center program, which was first certified in 2014 and is, without question, a premier facility for treating a disease that is the number five cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability. The mission of our Stroke Center of Excellence is to provide prevention, education, and optimal stroke care through the use of evidence-based practices and advanced technology, while ensuring dignity and compassion for each person we serve. We have already been accredited by the Florida Agency for Healthcare Accreditation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center and received a Gold Plus Award from the American Heart Association. We have also been recognized in the “Get with the Guidelines” Stroke Honor Roll with an Elite Plus Award for the past two years. Recently, NCH underwent another successful Joint Commission (JC) recertification for this Primary Stroke Center program. We had a great review by a competent, independent, experienced examiner, who concluded her review by suggesting that we go further to apply for the coveted JC Comprehensive Stroke Center designation. And so we shall. Continuing excellence is the goal of Dr. R. Viktoria Totoraitis, Vascular Neurologist; Dr. Mazen AbuAwad, Interventional Radiologist; Brenda Hartmann, RN, MSN, SCRN System Stroke Coordinator; and Diana Trupiano, MSN, RN, SCRN Stroke Navigator. Along with the able help of a team including the Emergency Room, Radiology, Rehabilitation, Laboratory, Transportation, and Emergency Medical Services, these caregivers last year served 1,200 people suffering strokes. Almost 90% of all stroke care in Collier County is provided by NCH. As important as this overall record of performance is, it is the individual stories of heroism that are most compelling. Dr. AbuAwad told me of a gentleman who had a complete blockage of the carotid artery, the major supplier of blood to one-half of the brain. Possibility of paralysis loomed. We collaborated with our neurosurgeon colleagues at Mayo Jacksonville, through our Mayo Clinic Care Network, who performed a complex and unusual bypass procedure taking blood flow from the remaining good side to “feed” the now blocked side. All worked well for the patient for a short time, but unfortunately the bypass began to clog up and the patient’s physical signs worsened. Dr. AbuAwad and the Mayo neurovascular surgeon called a noted colleague in Japan for advice. Together, they came up with a plan for Dr. AbuAwad to direct a catheter to the compromised graft and gently dilate. The blood flow improved, and the weakness disappeared. When the patient awoke, he literally cried tears of joy at this “miracle” of international medical collaboration. The morning after our most recent Joint Commission recertification, Stroke Navigator Diana Trupiano emailed the stroke team to thank them for all their hard work and to express how she and System Stroke Coordinator Brenda Hartmann were so “full of emotions, overwhelmed, excited, and proud.” All of us at NCH are similarly proud to be associated with such competence, diligence, teamwork and excellence that truly distinguish not only our Stroke Center, but our entire team of dedicated caregivers, as we all continue our never-ending journey to improve the lives of our families, friends and neighbors.